The sheep unit provides facilities for research for intensive efforts in nutrition, reproduction, physiology, neuroendocrinology, and biomedical research. The manager, one full-time staff member, plus part-time student employees (up to one FTE) provide care for the animals utilized for research, teaching, and extension activities. The objectives are to improve the quality of animal protein and increase efficiencies of production.
The breeding flock has 200 ewes lambing annually, with the goal of half fall-lambing and half traditionally spring lambing.
There are approximately 50 acres of alfalfa, orchardgrass, red clover, and birdsfoot trefoil pastures contained in seven-wire, predator control, high-tensile fence.
Feeding program: Pasture is utilized by the breeding flock during the grazing season. During the winter months, alfalfa haylage is used as the base ingredient for the breeding flock rations. Ewes are separated at lambing into pens according to the number of offspring they have, prior to lambing with the aid of ultrasound fetal counts. Ewes with twins and triplets are fed higher protein and energy diets than ewes with single offspring. A 20-percent crude-protein creep ration is fed to lambs before weaning. At weaning, lambs may remain in the barn or be placed on pasture.
The research facility has an expanded metal floor area over a manure pit. It is used to finish market lambs or house ewes and their offspring. The large number of pens in this naturally ventilated room allows for greater flexibility in managing and conducting research projects. The lab and office sections are totally enclosed and feature a geothermal system that is used to temper the incoming air. Lambing rooms and labs are used for intensive experimental projects with sheep, and for class projects. The service room is used for weighing, sorting, shearing, and other general work.
The hay and straw storage shed is a multi-purpose facility and also houses ewes and rams.
Animals are fed haylage from two 14' X 55' silos via a portable feed mixing cart. Supplements from the bulk storage bins can be added to the haylage.